Belgium Passes Burka Ban
Bill, which bans any kind of face covering, passes unopposed
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 30, 2010 8:53 AM CDT
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -AUGUST 20 : Afghan women in burqas wait in line at a polling station on August 20, 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Afghans voted on Thursday to elect a president for the second time in...   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Belgium's lower house of parliament today voted virtually unanimously in favor of a law aimed at banning burkas in public public places. The bill passed with 134 in favor, two abstaining, and none opposing. It moves now to the Senate, where it is expected to pass, but not before its wording is challenged, which could delay it until June or July.

The law wouldn't just ban burkas, it would ban any clothing that obscures the identity of the wearer. Anyone who doesn't comply could be jailed for up to seven days. Veil use isn't widespread in Belgium—the BBC says only about 30 women wear them, though that may be a typo; a lawmaker in our earlier story pegged the number at about 400. But Muslim groups have criticized the law, saying those women will be trapped in their homes, and Amnesty International calls it a violation of freedom of expression and religion.